Casualties from exploding lava, 1924.


Two Haole Soldiers Disappear Without Being Found—It is Believed They Too Were Victims of the Lava

These are the two haole soldiers who disappeared without their bodies being found from the morning of this past Sunday. The two were last seen in an area near the crater, before the powerful lava explosion.

From the left is Edward J. Hinman, and to his right is Howard J. Simmons, they are both soldiers of the engineers of Leilehua, and they were camping at Kilauea, Hawaii.

As per the very latest news received from Hilo town, Madame Pele is surely at it these days, displaying her wondrous power which causes fear in a great many of Hawaii’s people who went to see the volcanic activity.

Amongst the visitors on this past Sunday was one who met with tragedy, after breaking both his legs and being burned by the hot ash from the lava, that being Truman T. Taylor, the bookkeeper of Pahala Sugar Plantation.

Two soldiers disappeared on that same day after the lava exploded violently, and their whereabouts are not known; a great number of soldiers were sent under the leadership of Captain Charles H. Perkins to search of them.

It is said that Truman A. Taylor was around 1,800 feet from the crater, and even at that distance, large rocks were thrown into  the sky from the crater and they fell on this side and that side of the pit.

Someone heard a voice calling saw Mr. Taylor, and when they went to save him, it was seen that he broke both legs, and his body was scorched by the hot ash of the lava that was thrown up above.

The victim was given medical treatment at the soldier camp at Kilauea and from  there was quickly transported to the hospital in Hilo; there he died.

The Activity is Wondrous

From the previous night of Saturday until the dawn of Sunday, that was when the true power of the exploding lava, surpassing what happened earlier.

But the most powerful explosions seem to have occurred after eleven in the midday of Sunday; that was when large scorching rocks were thrown into the sky.

Each time the lava exploded with strength, large rocks were ejected into the sky and fell a distance of about 3/4 mile. These large rocks were accompanied by hot volcanic ash and dirt, also with the flash of lighting and the rumbling voice of thunder.

Volcano House [Hale Makaikai] is Closed

Because of this frightening sight of the volcanic activity, the doors of the visitor house at the crater, and the sightseers returned to Hilo in the afternoon of that Sunday.

At half past seven of that night, the lava again exploded violently, throwing huge rocks about two miles in distance from the crater.

The sky turned grey with volcanic smoke, and in the grey could be seen the flashing of lightning in the smoke.

To save the public from harm, a request was sent to Washington by Mr. Boles, the superintendent of Kilauea National Park, for approval to prohibit the public from going to that park; and he talked with heads of services of Hawaii to position guards in the streets going to the crater to prevent anyone from travelling on those roads; the only open road is the one that circles Hawaii.

According to the reports from Hilo, Mr. Truman A. Taylor died after being taken to the hospital because of the injuries he received.

(Kuokoa, 5/22/1924, p. 1)


Ka Nupepa Kuokoa, Buke LXIII, Helu 21, Aoao 1. Mei 22, 1924.

1 thought on “Casualties from exploding lava, 1924.

  1. Despite the worry expressed in this article, the two soldiers were not lost or killed. Truman Taylor was the only fatality of this series of explosive eruptions from Halemaumau.


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